Protesters occupy UC Berkeley-owned farm in Albany

Christopher Yee/Staff
The Occupy movement has set up tents and started farming on UC land, where a Whole Food was approved to be built by the Albany City Council.

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Members of Occupy Cal, along with other Occupy protesters from the Bay Area, marched from Berkeley to a UC Berkeley-owned farm in Albany on Sunday afternoon with plans to set up an Earth Day encampment.

After listening to speakers from various Occupy movements including Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland, over 100 protesters marched from Ohlone Park to Gill Tract Farm in Albany at 1 p.m., according to UC Berkeley senior and Occupy Cal protester Navid Shaghaghi.

Protesters said they are tilling the land, pulling out weeds and planting seeds in an effort to thwart attempts by the UC to develop a Whole Foods Market, senior center and parking lot on the land, which is located near the campus-owned family housing complex University Village.

After years of planning between the city and the UC, the Albany City Council approved the development of the project in January.

But protesters said that by developing a supermarket on the land, the UC is detering attempts by city and campus community members to use the site for agricultural education.

“We are honoring Earth Day and taking back land that has been abandoned,” Shaghaghi said. “We are planting all types of different plants and we have chickens.”

According to a live video feed run by demonstrators, UCPD had begun issuing warnings to the protesters for trespassing at around 4 p.m. Shaghaghi said he and other protesters plan to set up an encampment at the farm.

At around 5:30 p.m., there were not UCPD officers at the farm. By around 5:50 p.m.,protesters had set up three tents.

Staff writer Christopher Yee contributed to this report. 

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.